9 Jul 2019

Good cheese right from the start

The role of cultures and coagulants on taste and texture of cheese

For more than one hundred years, DSM has been helping cheesemakers around the world to produce cheeses with just the right flavor and texture to appeal to their very specific markets. DSM’s range of cultures, coagulants, enzymes, cheese ripening solutions, biopreservatives and residual antibiotic tests work together to create unique taste and texture while keeping costs down and running production at maximum efficiency. They all have an important but different role in the taste and texture development of cheese.

The choice of coagulants affects the texture of cheese
For a lot of cheese types, texture is a key characteristic and has important consequences on productivity and profitability. These textural traits are heavily influenced by proteolytic activity, which is the breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides or amino acids.
A coagulant with a low proteolytic activity – such as Maxiren® XDS, a coagulant enzyme that is highly specific towards k-casein – leads to a cheese with improved texture and better sliceability, which can result in 15% less waste during slicing. Furthermore, this improvement in sliceability allows a cheesemaker to increase the water content of a cheese by approximately 1% without any loss in quality. An increase of 1% may not seem much, but the economic gain through improving the yield over a whole production run can be significant. There’s another benefit to selecting the right coagulant. Research indicates that it can lead to an environmental footprint reduction of 3.5% across the total cheese production process.

The coagulant also affects the flavor of a cheese
Coagulant enzymes also play a key role in the flavor development of a cheese. Firstly, they support cheese ripening by cutting the α-caseins to increase accessibility of the enzymes of the lactic acid bacteria; a process that aids the development of flavor. Secondly, during ripening, specificity in cutting casein also improves taste, because the right coagulant prevents the hydrolysis of β-caseins and avoids the development of the resulting characteristic bitter taste.

Cultures contribute strongly to quality and flavor development in cheese
The type and dosage of culture used during the cheese development process are also important in determining the final taste of the cheese. Cultures in cheese have two functionalities. One is the acidifying property that decreases the pH and thus affects the taste and texture of the cheese. The second is the further development of taste components by the breakdown of available sugars (such as lactose and galactose), and of protein, which impacts taste, texture and browning. Both aspects are closely connected.